African Musical Symbolism in Contemporary Perspective: Roots, Rhythms and Relativity
Since the turn of the century the world has been swept by a succession of Black American dance beats, from Ragtime to Rap – followed in recent years by the popular “world” music of Africa itself. This book examines why all this Black “roots” and ethnic music has become the dominant sound of our global age. The book’s first section, deals with the symbolic knowledge of Sub-Saharan Africa embedded in its music and traditional world-views. Its second section examines how some areas of recent scientific research have moved away from the mechanistic and deterministic ethos of industrialism towards relativistic, holistic, circular, and participatory ideas that are, surprisingly, in tune with the old African symbols discussed in the first section. In short, the old insights and musical wisdom of Africa and its Diaspora are helping provide the contemporary age with the means of harmonizing our heads and feet, mind and matter, inner and outer and generally putting breathing-space, play and “swing” into a materialist world.
John Collins has been active in the Ghanaian/West African music scene since 1969 as a guitarist, band leader, music union activist, journalist and writer. He obtained his B.A. degree in sociology/archaeology from the University of Ghana in 1972 and his PhD in Ethnomusicology from SUNY Buffalo in 1994. He began teaching at the Music Department of the University of Ghana in 1995, obtained a Full Professorship there in 2002 and in 2003 became Head of Department. He is currently manager of Bokoor Recording Studio, chairman of the BAPMAF African Music Archives Foundation, a consultant for several Ghana music unions and co-leader of the Local Dimension Highlife Band.